Review – The Last Stand
The Last Stand, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s big return to action movies did not disappoint. Well, it did not disappoint me at least. I went in not really expecting anything. I’ve never been a big “Ahnold” fan, I think I’ve only seen 11 of his movies (Conan the Barbarian, Terminator, Terminator 2, Running Man, the last half hour of Predator (on TV), Twins, most of Kindergarten Cop some of Last Action Hero (again both on TV), Eraser, True Lies and of course Hercules in New York), but what I did see, I enjoyed for the most part. I went into The Last Stand thinking that Arnold’s “return to action” could be a lot more believable than some of the other aging action stars, and I think it was. Most of the action came from shoot outs and car chases, and while there was a final fight showdown between Schwarzenegger and the main bad guy of the film, I had enjoyed the preceding 100 minutes enough to believe that our hero could hold his own in a fight with the much younger villain. Arnold still looks to be in good shape; not crazy shape like Stallone who seems to have replaced his skin with some alien substance. What makes his fights in this movie believable are that they are just “one on one” fights, it’s not Schwarzenegger beating up a band of ninjas, or fighting off a horde of bad guys; he beats up one guy at a time, and as he is still a pretty big guy I can believe that this could happen this way.
The plot of the film is not too complex, the leader of a drug cartel escapes federal custody and steals a souped up Corvette to make his mad rush escape back to Mexico with an FBI Agent as his hostage. Outrunning the police (in some pretty cool car chase footage) he heads for a small border town to make good his plan. After defeating SWAT Teams and helicopters, how difficult could one small town sheriff be? Of course when Sheriff Ray Owens is no ordinary sheriff. After retiring from the LAPD elite drug squad after a failed operation that left him the only survivor of his team, Ray settles in the sleepy border town of Sommerton Junction. I think this was key to the whole premise of the film and what made it plausible. Seeing the small town sheriff take on drug lords out of nowhere is a little unbelievable, but given this small piece of back story, there is just a lot less disbelief to suspend. He obviously had the skills so defeating drug lords again makes sense. Of course Ray can’t do it on his own, he has his deputies Mike “Figgy” Figuerola (Luis Guzmán) and Sarah Torrance (Jaimie Alexander) and deputizes Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) the crackpot owner of an artillery museum and Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro) a former military man who seems to be hitting bottom but could probably turn his life around if given a second chance by somebody. Rounding out the cast were Genesis Rodriguez as FBI Agent Ellen Richards, Forest Whitaker as head FBI Agent John Bannister and finally Harry Dean Stanton as the crotchety old farmer/milkman, Mr. Parsons. Sure, The Last Stand is full of cliché moments and characters, but director Kim Jee-Woon’s (The Good, The Bad and the Weird) first American film was still a lot of fun.